JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, President Barack Obama's former pastor, said Thursday that black parents must pass on to their children and grandchildren stories of the civil rights movement so the memories won't die.
Wright, speaking to a civil rights conference at Jackson State University, compared the struggles of young blacks to that of the Bible's David who was ostracized by his family and local authorities. He said children should be told they have worth and are blessed by the Lord.
Wright said for every instance of hate against blacks in the 1960s, there were people like Fannie Lou Hamer, who challenged a segregated Mississippi Democratic Party convention delegation. And like President Lyndon B. Johnson who signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
"The spirit of the Lord kept the white Citizen's Council in check ... SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) kept up the job of voter registration.
"The spirit of the Lord had created them, had called them to serve in the 1960s, consecrated them for the work God assigned them and kept them while their enemies tried to destroy them." Wright said.
Wright was pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago for 36 years. Obama left the church during his presidential campaign, after videos surfaced of bombastic sermons by Wright, who retired in 2008.
Wright told reporters before his speech that he has not talked with the president.
He praised the president's work on health care reform, which Obama signed into law this week.
However, he said the partisan political debate and removal from the bill of a public health option was indicative of some members of Congress attitude toward blacks and the poor.
"The name-calling, the nasty blogs ... are part of that kind of hatred going around the country for people of color and the poor," Wright said.
He said it is to Obama's credit that he was able to overcome the partisan politics to win approval of the health care bill.
"No other president has been able to get that kind of health care bill passed," Wright said.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.